Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop… it’s porky goodness!

It was 99 degrees F outside today, and it’s only the middle of May.  Mother Nature, you are being cruel to us.  I love when you are around the 70s to mid-80s, because that’s what you are during the months of April and May.  In fact, that’s my favorite time of the year here.  So what gives?  Is this a taste of what is to come this summer?  Please be kind.  I can’t bear sizzling temperatures near/over 110 degrees F.

I couldn’t bear to cook in the house today.  We cooked in yesterday, although it was 93 degrees F outside, our house seemed like a sauna.  I suppose we could have turned on the air conditioner, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that because it is only May.  But I digress.  It was the perfect to take the cooking outdoors, and I’ll take any excuse to play, I mean, cook on my Big Green Egg.

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop (adapted from Viet World Kitchen)

4 pork chops, bone-in, about 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons garlic
3 tablespoons shallot
1 1/2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil

Using a mini food processor, pulse the sugar, garlic, shallot, and lemongrass to a mince-like texture. Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil, and process to combine well.

Place the pork chops in a large zip-lock bag, and pour the marinade to coat. Squish the marinade around to coat the pork chops evenly. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 24 hours. Allow the pork chops to rest at room temperature, about 30-45 minutes, before grilling.

Preheat the Big Green Egg (or any grill) to 550 degrees F (or medium-high heat). Grill the pork chops over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, about 4 minutes. Flip, and cook for an additional Place the chops on the grill rack of your Big Green Egg. Sear the chops for about 4 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove from the grill, and let the pork chops rest for 5 minutes.

My favorite way to eat these delicious pork chops is over steamed white rice with a fried egg, and nuoc cham dipping sauce.  Yum.

Makes 4 servings.

Oh my grilled cheeses, these are some tender baby back ribs that fall right off the bone!

I love me some ribs.  But I was too intimidated by the thought of cooking ribs on the grill.  I was afraid if I didn’t cook it properly, the meat was going to be dry and tough.  No.  Thank.  You.  I like me some ribs that fall right off the bone.

A few years ago we were invited over for a barbecue, and my friend’s husband made some ribs.  Oh my grilled cheeses.  The meat was so tender.  So juicy.  So flavorful.  I was intoxicated with love.  I asked what his secret was, and he looked over at his oven.  I thought he was joking.  So I asked him again what the secret was, and he chuckled.  This time, I knew he wasn’t kidding.  It really was his oven.  He told me that he hadn’t cooked ribs on the grill since being converted to the oven.  He said he swore by the oven method.  I was easily and immediately convinced.

The method to make the perfect ribs is low and slow.  Don’t bother setting the table with knives.  You’ll just be adding to the dishes to wash afterwards.  Seriously.  You can cut the meat with a fork.  Actually, forget the fork, too.  The meat just falls off the bone when you bite into the rib.

I wish I had me some ribs right now.

Baby Back Ribs that Fall Off the Bone

For dry rub:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon cumin

4 to 5 pounds pork baby back ribs
1/2 cup bourbon
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Mix well.

Remove membrane from the underside of the ribs. Generously rub ribs with dry rub until evenly coated on all sides. Make sure to get it into every nook and cranny of the ribs. Pat gently to ensure the rub adheres to the ribs. Wrap in foil and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, but overnight, is best.

Heat grill to medium high heat.  Grill each rack of ribs to char meat for a little flavor, but also to sear in the juices, about 5 minutes. [Heck, you can even skip this step if you want to save some time, but I've found that the grilling adds an extra depth of flavor.  Just rub a little liquid smoke into the ribs before applying the dry rub.]

Pour bourbon into the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place ribs on roasting rack in roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and cook for about 4 hours. Remove ribs carefully from roasting pan, and CAREFULLY unwrap foil. Coat ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place back on roasting pan uncovered, and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the barbecue sauce caramelizes.

Slice rack of ribs into individual ribs. Serve hot with extra barbecue sauce for those dippers and/or who like them saucy!

Lechon Asado (Cuban Roast Pork)

I wish there was such a thing as “smell-a-vision” because I would love for you to smell the lechon asado roasting in the oven.  The smell of citrus, garlic, onion, and pork is permeating through the house.  It’s intoxicating.

We just got back from a week vacation to NYC visiting my brother and sister-in-law.  A restaurant that we were excited to cross off our NYC foodie bucket list was Cafe Habana in the Nolita (North of Little Italy) District.  The restaurant was featured specifically for their grilled corn (read the restaurant review) on Food Networks’ “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”  We went there for dinner and it ended up being one of the best meals we ate in NYC, and trust me, we ate a lot of great meals.  I had the cuban sandwich was to die for.

The sandwich inspired me to recreate this dish at home.  So I starting marinating the pork butt yesterday afternoon, and it is now slowly roasting in our oven.

Lechon Asado (from 3 Guys from Miami)

3 pounds pork butt/shoulder
20 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups sour orange juice (or use two parts orange juice to one part lemon juice to one part lime juice)
1 cup onion, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 cup Spanish olive oil

Mash the garlic and salt together with a mortar and pestle.

Add dried oregano, onion, and the sour orange juice to the mash and mix thoroughly.

Pierce pork as many times as you can with a sharp knife or fork.

Heat oil in a small sauce pan, add the mash to the oil and whisk.

Pour garlic mixture (save a little for roasting) over pork, cover and let sit in refrigerator for 2-3 hours or preferably overnight.

To roast in the oven, preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the pork, fattest side up, in an open roasting pan. Place pan in oven and reduce temperature to 225 degrees F. Spoon extra marinade over the roast occasionally as it cooks. Using a meat thermometer, roast should be removed from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 195 degrees F. — for fork tender, “pulled-pork” quality. (If you want a roast you can slice, remove when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F.)

Immediately cover with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing or shredding.

Serve with rice, Cuban black beans, and sweet plantains… or better yet, make a Cuban sandwich!

What’s your favorite way of enjoying lechon asado?

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